Working on my Swing

Friday, September 15th, 2006, 10:12 am

With my trip to Aruba on the horizon I thought getting a taste of hot poker action would be a good idea. Get in the rhyhtm of the live game, observe the players, become attuned to the pulsating energy of a packed casino. One problem–I’m in Pittsburgh, and with the ETA of our planned slots casino around 2021, finding action would be difficult. But not impossible.

I drove the five minutes from my flat to the sports bar down the road, where I knew they had free poker tournaments on Wednesday nights. Now, I know what you’re thinking. A banquet hall in a bar does not equal Commerce Casino. And you’re right, I have no response to that. But as I wanted to see cards in the air and hear the clatter of chips, this was the best I could do at the moment. I showed up spot on 6:30, when the early game was due to begin, and found a gaggle of people standing outside the room smoking and sipping beers. Got myself a Yuengling, scribbled my name on the sign-up sheet, and a few minutes later took my place at table 3, seat 3.

Well, there were only three tables that night. Small crowd, only 17 people. The last time I came they had six tables going, and from the talk things slowed down over the summer. Everyone playing seemed to know each other–except for me. The mysterious stranger who comes out of nowhere and starts riffling chips and check-raising. Which I what I did on the first hand I played when I flopped two pair. I play for keeps, people. That’s the message I wanted to get across.

I had fun. Nice people, friendly game, good cards. I won a big pot with AK vs. AQ, and even won two big pots with bluffs on the river. I played with no fear, with style and elan and…some other ludicrously inappropriate word. I made the final table and continued my soul-destroying run by doubling up with KK against tens and knocking out the table captain when my AJ crushed his A-8.

When I’ve played in these things I don’t tell people that I’m a blogger, that I’ve written about poker, and that night I didn’t tell anyone about my upcoming assignment to work the Aruba Classic. Trying to explain what a blogger would be difficult at best, and trying to get them to care harder still. So I keep my identity secret, kinda like Bruce Wayne. Kinda.

Two hands near the end were amusing. I dealt myself AQ and called the all-in of the shortstack. He had the Hammer. Uh-oh, it would suck if I lost to the Ham…oh, great, I just dealt a 7 on the flop. Lost that hand, and the next time I was on the button I dealt myself the Hammer. Raised big, and the guy who’d just beat me thought it over and went all-in. Stuck but good I called, and he turned over J-10. And once again I flipped a 7 on the flop. Knew the Hammer wouldn’t let me down. Overall, I mean.

Heads-up lasted one hand. I pushed with A-3, the chip leader called with Q-J, and he flopped a queen. So, I asked, what did I win for my 2nd-place finish. Well, 24% of the prize pool. What was the prize pool? Points. You get points basked on how you do and you can redeem these points for…I don’t know what. Last time I was there you could win coupons and stuff for the restaurant, but this time I won points. The folks there that night play 3 or 4 nights a week at different bars who use the same company, which I’m not able to do. So, I played high-quality poker for 2 hours, and ended up with…nothing. But I had three inexpensive beers, had a good time, and felt like I’d done some homework for my trip next week. Mission Accomplished.

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One Response to “Working on my Swing”

  1. Alejandro Collins Says:

    Video Poker is being attacked by the State of North Carolina, but far from being intimidated, it will challenge the law which says that all the Video Poker Machines of the State must be taken away. It was filed in Wake County Superior Court, just a few weeks before October 1st which is when the cleaning out the machine is supposed to take place. It is of course supported by the N.C. Amusement Machine Association, plus a few individual video poker operators. While the industry was operating legally the machine could only give a payout worth $10. Unfortunately, many operators started to give out $100 or in some cases up to $1000 cash payout. It was beginning to resemble casino gambling and the way things were going, it was only going to get worse. While this turmoil is going on, you could be comfortably playing poker with the pros, sitting in your favorite chair, listening to your favorite music, in the company of Doyle Brunson in Poker. Let the lawsuits pass by, and just enjoy a quiet game in com, you could even receive a little tuition from the man himself, why not indeed?

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